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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues


Kenan Institute 2023 Grand Challenge: Workforce Disrupted
Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues

Shared Economic Prosperity


Leigh, a Kenan Institute Distinguished Fellow, will discuss the influence that societal events which occur outside of organizations have on employees when they enter the workplace and on individuals in society more broadly.

In contrast to the equivocal findings in academic research, “the business case for diversity” is the dominant rhetorical paradigm for how U.S. corporations debate actions and policies around racial/ethnic diversity. In this paper, we conduct an empirical test of the paradigm by gathering data on the race/ethnicity of the individuals shown on the leadership pages of S&P 500 firms’ websites as of mid-2011, 2014, 2017, 2020 and 2021, and then determining if any of nine measures of the racial/ethnic diversity of these executives reliably predict cross-sectional variation in any of six measures of their firms’ financial performance over the next fiscal year. We do not find reliable evidence that they do.

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Professor Jim Johnson, director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center, defines three groups facing challenges as companies return to the office and updates his forecast of demographic gale force winds.

North Carolina’s phenomenal migration-driven population growth masks a troubling trend: high rates of death and dying prematurely which, left unchecked, can potentially derail the state’s economic growth and prosperity in the years ahead. On average, 246 North Carolinians died each day during the 2010s, increasing to 317 daily between April 1, 2020 and July 1, 2022. COVID-19 and the substance abuse crisis have played a major role in premature deaths of prime working age citizens of the state. Both people-based and place-based strategies and interventions are urgently needed to address the state’s death crisis.

Stith, a Kenan Institute Distinguished Fellow, will moderate a panel on strategies to build a sustainable workforce pipeline in North Carolina.

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School's Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise will launch the Luther Hodges Scholars program in fall 2023, thanks to a naming gift from Carolina alumnus Luther Hodges.

Leading academics and innovators in the private and public sectors recently convened at the Kenan Institute's wealth inequality conference to foster meaningful dialogue about the effects of income disparity and how education and research can create opportunities for more equitable access. 

In addition to academic presentations, the Conference on Market-Based Solutions for Reducing Wealth Inequality took participants out of the classroom and into the community for a walking tour and on-site discussions in nearby Durham, N.C.

Chief Economist Gerald Cohen outlines mid-year updates to our 2023 economic forecasts, discussing which EMAs have changed since our January projections.

With economic growth can come growing pains, such as an increased cost of living and displacement of local businesses. An NCGrowth report examines how communities with a large manufacturer can minimize those pains.

The Kenan Institute and UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s inaugural Conference on Market-Based Solutions for Reducing Wealth Inequality on June 1-2 highlighted research on market mechanisms that might also work to ameliorate inequality.

In recent years, the importance of reducing wealth inequality and spurring inclusive economic growth has become apparent. Most approaches to reducing wealth inequality have been on the policy side, for example, through changing taxation. But economic prosperity can also occur for people in the lower half of the wealth distribution through market-based actions. The business sector has innovated and found profitable opportunities by serving lower income or lower wealth communities — for example, fintech or telehealth are two domains in which for-profit businesses have created opportunities for those in more disadvantaged situations to improve their well-being, including their finances.